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Mozilla on The Prowl for a New CEO

Mozilla chairman Mitchell Baker has announced in a blog post that Mozilla CEO John Lilly will be stepping down from the company’s top post later this year—and the organization has already launched its search for a new CEO. Lilly will remain at Mozilla during the leadership transition, and will remain on Mozilla’s board after stepping down.

Mozilla’s best-known product is the Firefox Web browser, which in the last few years has taken a significant chunk out of Internet Explorer’s dominance of the Web browser market…although IE is still the top dog. The news comes just as Mozilla has publicly outlined plans for Firefox 4, which will aim to make the browser faster, neater, more secure, and a stronger foundation for Web-based applications.

“It’s been a pleasure to work with John in building an organization that marries our public benefit mission with extraordinary reach and excellence in execution,” Baker wrote.

Mozilla occupies a relatively unique niche in the software world: it is set up as a “public benefit organization,” which isn’t exactly a non-profit but isn’t a traditional take-the-money-and-run software operation either. As a result, Mozilla plans to make its CEO selection process more transparent than leadership recruitment efforts at traditional for-profit organizations.

When Lilly joined Mozilla nearly five years ago, he planned to stay with the organization for two years: “Mozilla was originally going to be a quick volunteer effort for me,” he wrote in a blog post of his own. Lilly says will be joining Greylock Partners as a venture partner and returning to the world of startup companies.

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